London theatre. Saskia Reeves & Danny Webb are ‘She’ & ‘He’ in The Mistress Contract. Two week extension announced until 22 March 2014.
The Mistress Contract by Aby Morgan. Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court Theatre. 30 Jan – 22 March 2014.
Saskia Reeves and Danny Webb will play ‘She’ and ‘He’ in The Mistress Contract, a new play by Abi Morgan, which opens in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre on Wednesday 5 February (previews from 30 January) and has been extended for two weeks until Saturday 22 March.
The production will be directed by Vicky Featherstone, with design by Merle Hensel, lighting by Natasha Chivers and music and sound by Nick Powell.
She and He are the pseudonyms of a real-life couple who live in separate houses in the same city on the west coast of America. She is 88. He is 93.
For 30 years he has provided her with a home and an income, while she provides ‘mistress services’ – ‘All sexual acts as requested, with suspension of historical, emotional, psychological disclaimers.’
They first met at university and then lost touch. When they met again 20 years later, they began an affair when She – a highly educated, intelligent woman with a history of involvement in the feminist movement – asked her wealthy lover to sign the remarkable document that outlines their unconventional lifestyle: The Mistress Contract.
Was her suggestion a betrayal of all that she and the women of her generation had fought for? Or was it brave, honest, and radical? Then — on a small recorder that fit in her purse — this extraordinary couple began to tape their conversations about their relationship, conversations that took place while travelling, over dinner at home and in restaurants, on the phone, even in bed.
Based on reams of tape recordings made over their 30 year relationship, The Mistress Contract is a remarkable document of this unconventional couple, and the contract that kept them bound together to this day.
Saskia Reeves plays ‘She’. She has worked extensively on stage and screen and last appeared at the Royal Court in 2005 in The Woman Before. Her other theatre credits include Hello and Goodbye at the Trafalgar Studios and A Disappearing Number for Complicité at the Barbican. On television, her credits include Red Riding on Channel 4, Luther on BBC 1 and playing the part of Anne Darwin in BBC4’s Canoe Man. On film, her credits include Close My Eyes, Butterfly Kiss and ID.
Danny Webb plays ‘He’. He most recently appeared in the Royal Court’s production of Circle Mirror Transformation in Haggerston, and at the Royal Court in The Witness and Chicken Soup with Barley. Previous credits there include Serious Money, Piano/Forte and Trade. Credits elsewhere include Troilus and Cressida at the RSC, Blasted at the Lyric Hammersmith and 13 at the National Theatre. On film, he appeared in the feature film The Arbor and BBC drama Land Girls.
The Mistress Contract is Abi Morgan’s Royal Court Theatre debut. Her theatre credits include most recently 27 for National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly’s Lovesong . Her previous plays for the stage include Skinned, Splendour and Tiny Dynamite. A BAFTA award-winning writer; on film, she wrote the screenplay for The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep and Shame, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Michael Fassbender. On television, her credits include BBC2’s The Hour, Birdsong, starring Eddie Redmayne on BBC1, White Girl and Sex Traffic on Channel 4. The Invisible Woman, for which she has written the screenplay opens at the London Film Festival in October.
Artistic Director of the Royal Court Vicky Featherstone directs. Most recently, she directed The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas. She has previously directed Abi Morgan’s plays 27 at National Theatre of Scotland, Splendour at Paines Plough and Tiny Dynamite for Paines Plough and Frantic Assembly. Prior to the Royal Court she was the first Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland, where her credits include Enquirer (co-directed with John Tiffany), Appointment with The Wicker Man, 27, The Wheel, Somersaults, Wall of Death: A Way of Life (co-directed with Stephen Skrynka), The Miracle Man, Empty, Long Gone Lonesome, Cockroach, 365, Mary Stuart and co-directed The Wolves In The Walls. As Artistic Director of Paines Plough from 1997 to 2005, her credits include The Small Things, Pyrenees, On Blindness, The Drowned World, Tiny Dynamite, Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco, Splendour, Riddance, The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union and Crave, which ran at the Royal Court.
The Mistress Contract: A Memoir by anonymous American couple She and He, based on the transcripts of the original tapes was published by Serpent’s Tail on 7 November.